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updatedb(8) System Manager's Manual updatedb(8)


updatedb - update a database for plocate


updatedb [OPTION]...


updatedb creates or updates a database used by locate(1). If the database already exists, its data is reused to avoid rereading directories that have not changed.

updatedb is usually run daily from a systemd.timer(8) to update the default database.


updatedb returns with exit status 0 on success, 1 on error.


The PRUNE_BIND_MOUNTS, PRUNEFS, PRUNENAMES and PRUNEPATHS variables, which are modified by some of the options, are documented in detail in updatedb.conf(5).

Add entries in white-space-separated list FS to PRUNEFS.

Add entries in white-space-separated list NAMES to PRUNENAMES.

Add entries in white-space-separated list PATHS to PRUNEPATHS.

Add PATH to PRUNEPATHS. Note that this is currently the only way to add a path with a space in it.

Store only results of scanning the file system subtree rooted at PATH to the generated database. The whole file system is scanned by default.

locate(1) outputs entries as absolute path names which don't contain symbolic links, regardless of the form of PATH.

Write debugging information about pruning decisions to standard error output.

Write a summary of the available options to standard output and exit successfully.

Write the database to FILE instead of using the default database.

Set PRUNE_BIND_MOUNTS to FLAG, overriding the configuration file.

Set PRUNEFS to FS, overriding the configuration file.

Set PRUNENAMES to NAMES, overriding the configuration file.

Set PRUNEPATHS to PATHS, overriding the configuration file.

Set the “require file visibility before reporting it” flag in the generated database to FLAG.

If FLAG is 0 or no, or if the database file is readable by "others" or it is not owned by nobody, locate(1) outputs the database entries even if the user running locate(1) could not have read the directory necessary to find out the file described by the database entry.

If FLAG is 1 or yes (the default), locate(1) checks the permissions of parent directories of each entry before reporting it to the invoking user. To make the file existence truly hidden from other users, the database group is set to nobody and the database permissions prohibit reading the database by users using other means than locate(1), which is set-gid nobody.

Note that the visibility flag is checked only if the database is owned by nobody and it is not readable by "others".

Output path names of files to standard output, as soon as they are found.

Write information about the version and license of locate on standard output and exit successfully.


To create a private plocate database as a user other than root, run

updatedb -l 0 -o db_file -U source_directory
Note that all users that can read db_file can get the complete list of files in the subtree of source_directory.


A configuration file. See updatedb.conf(5). Uses exactly the same format as the one used by mlocate(1)'s updatedb, so they can be shared.

The database updated by default.


Databases built with --require-visibility no allow users to find names of files and directories of other users, which they would not otherwise be able to do.


Miloslav Trmac <>

Steinar H. Gunderson <>


locate(1), updatedb.conf(5)

Dec 2020 plocate